Daily Israel Report

USAID Director Recalled From Cairo

The USAID director in Cairo abruptly returned to the US as a rift between the Obama administration and Egypt's caretaker gov't widens.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 8/12/2011, 2:32 PM

Jim Bever
Jim Bever
USAID Photo

The USAID director in Egypt abruptly flew back to Washington on Thursday after less than a year on the job, Boston.com reported.

The appaerent recall is the first major casualty of a growing dispute between the two longtime allies over American funding for prodemocracy groups.
 
Jim Bever left his post the day after President Obama’s administration chastised Egypt’s caretaker junta of stoking anti-American sentiment during the country’s rocky transition to democracy. In the rare public rebuke, the United States said it had noticed mounting attacks and criticism of US aid and motives.
 
Criticism of the United States by Egypt's rulers is a sign the military is growing anxious over foreign aid they fear could strengthen the liberal groups behind Egypt’s uprising at the expense of the military’s own vast power. 
 
Bever has been at the center of a dispute over funding since March, when USAID - the American government organization that distributes international development aid - placed advertisements inviting nongovernmental groups in Egypt to apply for US funding. 
 
The ads attracted hundreds of applicants, who lined up outside USAID offices in a quiet suburb south of Cairo. Over the next few months, the American aid organization allocated millions of dollars to the groups.
 
This left the government seething. It insisted that the funding must go through official channels and not directly to the groups. Those restrictions applied during the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, whose government tightly controlled the process.
 
Last month, Major General Mohammed al-Assar, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, gave a speech in Washington and criticized the United States for funding prodemocracy groups without Egyptian government supervision saying it violated Egypt's laws for funding nongovernmental organizations.
 
“It is a matter of sovereignty,’’ he said.